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Changing jobs: It’s not just about the money. There’s another reason people switch employer

For many workers, access to hybrid or flexible work is a key motivator to move company

When it comes to changing job, it’s mostly about the money. A bigger salary is the main reason people move, but it’s no longer the only one. Since Covid, flexible working, or lack of it, is right up there as another key motivator to quit.

Just under half of those who participated in Morgan McKinley’s latest salary guide said that one or two days in the office is their preferred option. But while this might suit employees, it flies in the face of what a lot of employers want – their people back in the office.

This is a tussle that could go on for some time but there is evidence that employers are getting the upper hand. “Office creep”- getting people back in their offices more often – is on the rise as any commuter will testify, and some organisations are beginning to monitor staff for compliance with hybrid working arrangements.

EY in the UK is the latest organisation to hit the headlines in this regard, with the Financial Times reporting that anonymised data, based on the use of entry swipe cards, is being used to show managers how often employees are, or are not, coming into the office.


EY is not alone in trying to tighten accountability. It is following in the footsteps of a slew of other big businesses cracking down on what is seen as the abuse of hybrid working policies. Also driving the comeback is the correlation being made between performance and attendance.

According to Morgan McKinley, just over 40 per cent of organisations are asking their staff to be in the office more often than they were a year ago, with a preference for 1-2 days. Only 20 per cent of the survey sample was offering fully remote working, 8 per cent wanted people in the office five days a week and a quarter wanted attendance for three or four days.

“In 2023, the hybrid working model remained prevalent. However, over a quarter of employers acknowledged losing out on potential hires due to their inability to meet remote and hybrid work expectations,” says Trayc Keevans, global FDI director for Morgan McKinley Ireland, who adds that 50 per cent of the Irish employees surveyed would consider a drop in salary to get the work flexibility they want.

Matrix Recruitment is expecting 2024 to be a candidate’s market with increases in salary more modest than in previous years but still a feature in sectors facing talent shortages. Apart from money, other benefits likely to sway the decision to move in 2024 are good pension provision, health insurance, a bonus system, more holidays and flexible start and finish times.

Matrix expects to see a rise in the amount of contract work available, a very competitive market for supply chain professionals and a change in focus in the financial services sector, with more emphasis on innovation and the use of cutting-edge technology.

This increase in tech roles within financial services is likely to pique the interest of a new generation of workers (typically aged 18-24) according to Patricia Callan, director of Financial Services Ireland. She says that emerging opportunities in areas such as sustainability and funding for renewable energy and climate change initiatives will be a draw for younger job seekers in an industry where every firm is now effectively a fintech and deeply involved in the digital transformation of the economy.

In its commentary on HR trends for 2024, leadership consultants Hogan Assessments say workers will become more focused on what they want from their careers.

“Gone is the idea of moving jobs every few years for career progression. Now, talent is instead choosing to focus on seeking out new jobs only if they align with their values,” says Dr Ryne Sherman, the company’s chief science officer. “In 2024 we will see career movement not just based on salary expectations and benefits, but with more emphasis placed on social impact and personal values to ensure a career path where employees feel valued, engaged, and find their work more fulfilling.”

On a lighter note, one “value” employees may want to rethink for 2024 is water-cooler gossip. Researchers from Durham University and NEOMA business school in France have discovered that gossiping is really bad for your career.

“Not only are gossipers frowned upon by other work colleagues, they also become socially excluded in the company, and can experience negative career-related impacts as a consequence of their storytelling,” the researchers say, adding that they also found that gender had an impact on how gossipers were perceived. Women have a much more negative view of workplace gossipers than men.

The researchers ran three different studies with about 1,000 participants between them and found that gossipers are universally viewed in a negative light. They are often socially excluded by co-workers who drop them from social media groups. Others share as little information as possible with them and some employees won’t engage with gossipers at all.

Where this really matters is around career progression involving peer review, as gossipers are more likely to get low ratings from their peers, which in some cases may lead to a bonus cut or interfere with someone’s prospects for promotion.

Gossiping may be a feature of most workplaces but Dr Maria Kakarika, associate professor of organisational behaviour and leadership at Durham University business school, who was involved in the research, reckons it could be reduced if people were aware that gossiping says as much about the gossiper as about the gossiped.